The purpose of this article is to describe the imaging findings of acute central pulmonary embolism on computed tomography (CT) densitometry images performed before contrast-enhanced CT pulmonary angiography.
A retrospective review was conducted of reports from all CT pulmonary angiograms performed at our institution, and cases of acute central pulmonary embolism, defined as those with clot in the main, left, or right pulmonary arteries, were identified. Images of positive studies were reviewed on a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) workstation.
A total of 1282 CT pulmonary angiograms were obtained for evaluation of possible acute pulmonary embolism, and 1 combined CT aortogram and pulmonary angiogram was performed for aortic dissection and acute pulmonary embolism. Two hundred fourteen (16.7%) examinations positive for acute pulmonary embolism were identified, 26 (12.1%, 2.0% of total examinations) of which had central clots. Of the 26 patients with central acute pulmonary embolism, 12 (46.1%, 5.6% of all positive studies and 0.9% of all CT pulmonary angiograms) had clots that were visible on the densitometry images.
Although an uncommon finding, acute central pulmonary embolism can be detected on CT densitometry performed to optimize opacification of the pulmonary arteries for CT pulmonary angiography and may prove useful in selected clinical situations.